Digital Strategy & Managed Services

Published by Matt Setchell on

I’ve always avoided using the term managed service to describe what we do at Lourdes IT – lots of directly employed Edu IT staff see it as a horrific term that means they will loose their jobs and autonomy.

The thing is, they are right to an extent. Those things do happen. But is that a bad thing? Are those things really to the detriment of IT staff and their careers?

Just as important, is managed service for IT in your schools to the detriment of the teaching and learning?

The answer, as with anything in life is no, if done well. Yes if done poorly.

Many managed service providers are businesses trying to give IT support because they have been able to do it for businesses and see a new market opportunity and driven by their bottom lines they believe the services to business and education are the same. They are not. I can’t do effective business support, I can do amazing IT Support. The two sectors are incredibly different with different demands and users to cater for.

When you are solely focused on education, your SLAs and your policies reflect the need of the environment you work in.

Your team will only be focused and trained in the needs of your schools.

You will also be able to complete the missing link that most managed suppliers miss – the need for a digital strategy and implementation plans for schools. You can give effective support without them for a while, but, unlike many businesses, the use of technology in education is driven by the needs of multiple groups – teachers using it to teach, admin staff to run what are now essentially businesses and students to learn – they don’t often need IT to teach, but it can enhance it – if it is meeting the needs of staff and students. So it’s not as simple as plonking in a PC and a laptop.

The other benefits of managed service for schools is the fixed price, the lack of management of the service and the HR etc that surrounds it, and if done right, the multiple layers of support and expertise that can be accessed.

Finally, the recoil from staff who work in a school when a managed service is mentioned is completely understandable, when the experiences they likely here are BSF movement to companies like Capita that have ultimately failed in every respect.

But again, if done well – managed services and centralised teams are excellent at nurturing expertise and developing individuals as well as a professional face of the profession which has been lacking at times.

It’s important that we embrace this new centralised or managed service provision, as it’s the way forward for EduIT – and it’s heart should be a digital strategy lead by teaching and learning experts